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Jianghu Demolition Squad

Jianghu By Jun 04, 2024 1 Comment
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Chapter 22: Illusory Dreams

A Thread of love Wrapped around Black Silk (Part One)

After Ye Sheng and his companions left, Qin Mu was beaten by the crowd until his bones were broken and his flesh was battered, lying limp on the ground, devoid of any sign of life.

Hua Lian, frustrated from getting nothing out of Yuan Wenliu about the whereabouts of the Meiren Gu, concealed his irritation poorly. Though he was on the verge of taking Yuan Wenliu’s life, Qing Jiu intervened just in time.

Qing Jiu called out, “Brother Qi,” her voice cutting through the tension outside.

At her call, the southern wall of the courtyard exploded with a loud crash, and a formidable figure burst through, stepping in with urgency, shouting, “Hey! I’m here! I’m here!”

Qi Tianzhu had been anxiously listening to the conflict from outside, torn between his worry and Qing Jiu’s instructions to stay put unless called for. His patience paid off when he heard Qing Jiu’s call, igniting a fire within him. With his profound internal energy, he made his dramatic entrance through the wall.

Brushing off the debris, Qi Tianzhu’s eyes widened in surprise upon spotting Yu’er, “What are you doing here?!”

Hua Lian pointed at Yuan Wenliu and declared, “There!”

Qi Tianzhu’s expression darkened instantly, veins bulging on his neck, his face turning a shade of deep red.

Qing Jiu said, “Yuan Wenliu is yours to deal with.”

“Thank you, Miss Qing Jiu,” Qi Tianzhu bowed deeply to Qing Jiu, then stood up and said solemnly, “Miss Qing Jiu, please take Yu’er and leave.”

With that, Qing Jiu and Yu’er, followed by their companions, made their exit through the breach in the wall.

“Yu’er!”

Yu’er paused, turning to see Banjin and Baliang waving at her, a genuine smile on their face, “You saved us today. We will definitely repay you in the future!”

Another figure walked out from the crowd around Qin Mu, it was the girl driven to madness. Now, her face was calm, as if she had returned to normal. Without a word, she knelt before Yu’er, bowing deeply in gratitude.

Qing Jiu patted Yu’er on the shoulder, “Let’s go.”

The group left the Qin Manor, leaving Qi Tianzhu and Tang Linzhi behind. They hadn’t gone far when they heard Tang Linzhi say, “Brother Qi, leave a whole corpse, so I can take it to the Tang Sect outpost to complete the mission.”

Following this, the sound of destruction echoed as a tower within the Qin Manor crumbled, its dust rising like a testament to the force used, as if a giant hammer had obliterated its very foundation.

The next day, Yu’er found out through Tang Linzhi’s joking remarks about the events of the previous night. Qi Tianzhu had unleashed a series of ten Buddhist palm strikes in rapid succession. He poured all his strength into the final strike, propelling Yuan Wenliu through the air and into a pavilion. Yuan Wenliu crashed through the entrance, didn’t stop until he had smashed several of the pavilion’s beams, and eventually landed on the ground outside its rear. Had Yuan Wenliu’s internal energy had been a bit weaker, he would have been reduced to nothing more than a puddle of mud from the impact. Fortunately, Yuan Wenliu’s robust internal energy meant that, despite suffering severe injuries and having every muscle and bone shattered, his body remained intact.

After facing continuous danger for several days, the group finally got a chance to relax. While Hua Lian went with Tang Linzhi on a mission to the Tang Sect outpost, the others enjoyed a much-needed break in the courtyard.

That whole day, due to Mo Wen’s negligence in drinking, Yu’er ended up being captured, leading to a stern lecture from Yan Li.

Yesterday, when everyone got back, Mo Wen was still recovering from her drunkenness and was later woken up to treat Yu’er’s internal injuries. After a considerable effort, everyone finally managed to settle down for the night, and the matter was left unaddressed, leaving Mo Wen in the dark about how Yu’er got hurt. It wasn’t until today that Yan Li briefed her on what had happened, leading Mo Wen to recognize that her drinking had caused her to neglect her responsibilities.

Yan Li scolded, “You spend every day lost in a haze of drunkenness. We’ve never tried to stop you because you enjoy your drink, but lately, you’ve been losing all sense of control. Today, you messed up and lost Yu’er. Fortunately, nothing serious happened. But if you keep this up, who knows what will happen next? You could end up getting drunk and dying on this table, or even getting your head cut off! Do you want that?”

Her words spared no dignity for Mo Wen in front of Qi Tianzhu and Yu’er.

All Mo Wen could muster in her defense was a weak, “I didn’t do it on purpose…”

Qing Jiu interjected with a laugh, “Were you planning on doing it on purpose?”

From then on, Mo Wen fell silent, merely nodding her head in response to Yan Li’s scolding.

Eventually, Yan Li sighed, seemingly too weary to continue her lecture.

When night fell, Yu’er extinguished the candlelight and lay in bed.

The cold moonlight spilled in front of the bed, covering the ground with a silver frost. Lying there, Yu’er’s thoughts drifted to her mother, whose face had become a blur in her memory.

As she thought about it, her thoughts gradually drifted away…

Yu’er found herself standing in pitch darkness. When she came to her senses, she heard the heavy growl of a beast. Suddenly, the stench of blood and the putrid smell of rot assaulted her senses.

Yu’er’s heart raced, pounding painfully in her chest. She cautiously stepped forward. In the dim light of the room, she saw a woman’s corpse lying in a pool of blood, her features indistinct, twitching with each movement of the man on top of her. The man, baring his furry chest, suddenly turned his gaze on her, his mouth widening into a sinister grin as he reached out to grab her.

Yu’er retreated in panic, stepping on the doorstep and falling back to sit on the ground. Her hands landed in something sticky and wet. Turning, she saw blood everywhere, and the hall behind her was filled with dismembered bodies, their eyeless faces staring blankly.

Yu’er struggled to breath as she scrambled up, only for her ankle to be suddenly grabbed.

A chill ran down her spine as she looked down to see Yuan Wenliu, his body twisted unnaturally, his head covered in blood, one withered hand firmly holding her.

Yu’er broke out in a cold sweat, shocked and at a loss. Just then, a cold light fell, and Yuan Wenliu’s body turned to ash.

A sudden gentle, cool fragrance wafted through, dispelling the smell of blood, and soft hands took hold of her wrist.

Yu’er attempted to turn and see the person behind her, but a hand moved up to cover her eyes, and a voice whispered beside her, “Hold my hand, I’ll take you out of here.”

Yu’er tried to speak, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t call out her name.

After a few steps, the air cleared, and a gentle breeze greeted them.

Yu’er suddenly opened her eyes to find her room as it was, the candle extinguished, and the room bathed in moonlight.

It had all been a dream.

Yu’er awoke drenched in sweat. She got up to change her clothes, and as she undressed, a handkerchief she’d kept close fell to the ground. Bending to pick it up, she recognized the ‘Lin’ character embroidered on it – the same handkerchief Qing Jiu had used to wipe her face the previous day, promising to return it once washed. It was freshly laundered and just dried.

The handkerchief held a faint fragrance, similar to Qing Jiu’s scent, elegant and gentle.

Waking up in the middle of the night, Yu’er found it difficult to fall asleep again. After changing her clothes, she went to the courtyard to practice her sword.

Under the bright moonlight, as summer neared and the sounds of insects began to rise, Yu’er’s sword danced with cold brilliance. She practiced the techniques Yan Li had taught her until they were second nature. As she became faster, a sword energy began to emerge, causing the nearby banana leaves to rustle.

“Yu’er.”

She turned to see Qing Jiu, who had appeared silently under the eaves. Her long black hair loose, draped in a robe, she stood half in moonlight and half in shadow, looking drowsy, leaning against a pillar, hands tucked in her sleeves, “When practicing martial arts, you can’t be too impatient. Haste makes waste. When it’s time to rest, you must rest. Balancing work and rest.”

Yu’er hastily sheathed her sword, apologetically saying, “Did I wake you?”

Qing Jiu’s eyes flickered open. Martial artists, with their sharp senses, are often stirred by the slightest disturbance in the calm of the night. She suspected she wasn’t the only one awakened.

Descending the steps, Qing Jiu queried, “What’s up, can’t sleep?”

Yu’er, her eyes lingering on the edge of her garment, took a moment before softly admitting, “Yes.”

Qing Jiu observed Yu’er in the moonlight that adorned her hair and white dress, painting her as a celestial being descended upon clouds, enveloped in a cloak of light frost and mist, “Today is Girl’s Day, and there’s a night market outside. It must be lively. Since you’re awake, why not go and have a look?”

“Now?” Yu’er asked.

Qingjiu dressed properly and casually tied her hair with a red ribbon, smiling at Yu’er, “If not now, then when?”

Yu’er followed Qing Jiu out of the courtyard and onto the street, where they saw lantern-lit towers and bustling crowds, even more lively than during the day.

Walking side by side, their two slender shadows danced across the bluestone road, flickering in the light of the lanterns above — growing longer and shorter with each step.

The street was lined with stalls selling everything from ornamental hairpins and rice dumplings to curious trinkets that caught the eye.

They paused before a stall displaying masks crafted into various animal forms, each detailed with painted patterns.

In a soft voice, Qing Jiu inquired, “You encountered Yuan Wenliu and even fought with him. Were you afraid?” Yu’er clasped her arm, at first shaking her head, but then, with hesitation, she nodded.

“Qing Jiu, Why are you looking for Yuan Wenliu and the Meiren Gu?” Yu’er questioned.

Qing Jiu reached for a mask from the rack, her sleeves flowing like clouds, “Linzhi has taken on a mission from her sect to take their heads. Hua Lian and I… we have a personal grudge against Meiren Gu.”

As Yu’er’s gaze unintentionally swept to the left of the rack, she spotted a mask and reached out to take it down.

It was a fox mask, its eyes and brows highlighted with cinnabar and gold dust, the eyes curving just like Qing Jiu’s that night. Without thinking, Yu’er held it up to the side of Qing Jiu’s face, aligning it with her profile.

“Our path will inevitably cross with the Meiren Gu, who is far more powerful than Yuan Wenliu,” Qing Jiu mused. “Yu’er, when that time comes…”

Turning to face Yu’er, Qing Jiu saw her holding the mask, lost in thought, “What is it, do you want it?”

Coming back to her senses, Yu’er noticed Qing Jiu’s dark eyes twinkling with amusement and hastily set the mask down.

Qing Jiu chuckled, “It’s alright, buy it if you like.”

With a mischievous smile, she drew out a pouch of silver coins and flipped it towards her. “It’s from the Qin manor,” she said, “So there’s no need to worry about Yan Li’s lectures.”

Feeling an inexplicable flutter in her heart, Yu’er grew more flustered, “Qing Jiu, there’s a stall selling candied chestnuts over there.”

“Hmm?”

“I’ll go get some for you.”

As Qing Jiu was settling the payment with the vendor, Yu’er had already made her way far off.

Yu’er ran a few steps in panic, then slowed down as she approached the candied chestnut stall, feeling slightly better as the heat in her face subsided, “Shopkeeper, a serving of candied chestnuts, please.”

Yu’er reached into her pocket for the silver coins she had earned in the past few days by fortune-telling on the streets with Yan Li. She had given her a portion to buy whatever she wished.

Suddenly, a figure approached and handed the silver to the old man with a gentle voice, “Allow me.” Yu’er looked up at him.

Yu’er looked up to see Ye Sheng bowing to her, “Miss Yu’er, are you also enjoying the night market?” He was accompanied by three others, Ye Wushuang appeared somewhat awkward upon seeing Yu’er, merely nodding in greeting. Jiang Si and Jiang Zhu, each holding various trinkets, bowed deeply to her.

Yu’er gave a slight bow in return, “Sect Leader Ye.”

Ye Sheng expressed his regret, “Miss Yu’er, I regret the misunderstanding at the Qin manor, where I acted rashly and injured you. Please accept my apology.”

Yu’er shook her head, “It’s alright. You were deceived by Qin Mu as well.”

“Miss Yu’er, your kindness is truly exceptional,” Ye Sheng then produced a bottle of medicinal pills from his robe, “These are high-quality medicines from our sect, specifically formulated for internal injuries. They should be beneficial for you. I offer them as a humble apology. Please accept this modest gift, and don’t find it lacking.”

Yu’er continued to shake her head, “There’s no need; my injuries are healed, and they were injured by Qing Jiu too, let’s call it even.”

Ye Sheng, taken aback, laughed at her refusal to accept the medicine, pondering whether she was truly discerning and generous or simply naive, not understanding the complexities of social interactions in jianghu. Wenwu Sect now owed her a debt, yet she refused without a second thought.

“Miss.”

The old vendor handed her a package wrapped in oil paper. Yu’er took it, holding it close, and handed over the silver coins.

The old vendor, taking the coins, looked from Yu’er to Ye Sheng and said, “This…” but Yu’er had already turned to leave.

“Miss Yu’er!” Ye Sheng called out.

Yu’er paused, turned back, and replied, “One should not accept rewards without merit, thank you for your kindness, Sect Leader Ye.”

The phrase ‘One should not accept rewards without merit’ was something Qing Jiu had just taught her that morning.

Yu’er walked away, blending into the crowd, her interaction with Ye Sheng quickly drowned out by the surrounding noise. She spotted Qing Jiu waiting by the mask stall.

Suddenly, perhaps from not watching where she was going, she collided with someone. Yu’er, jostled to the side, looked at the person she bumped into, who had stopped in their tracks. The person, cloaked in black with a hood, slightly bowed their head, revealing only a fair chin and soft red lips.

“I’m sorry,” Yu’er said.

The person chuckled lightly, “Little Yu’er.”

Hearing her name, Yu’er froze. The person slowly lifted their head, revealing a face partially obscured by the hood, with delicate brows and starry eyes, exuding a graceful beauty.

Yu’er, recognizing the familiar face, remembered the woman from the bandit fortress where she had been taken to become the bandit leader’s wife, exclaimed, “It’s you!”

The person approached with a smile, holding an object that they then attached to Yu’er’s waistband, “A token of gratitude.”

The encounter was so swift that Yu’er couldn’t see clearly. By the time she thought to step away, the woman had already slipped away.

Looking down, Yu’er noticed a jade pendant hanging from her waist. She hurriedly took it off, intending to return it to the strange woman, but when she looked up, the woman had vanished without a trace, leaving behind only a softly murmured “We will meet again” lingering in the air.

Holding the jade pendant, Yu’er approached the mask stand, only to have something placed over her head. She moved slightly, and a fox mask slid down to cover her face.

Qing Jiu reached into her bosom to take the chestnuts, “What took you so long?”

“I ran into Sect Leader Ye…” Yu’er explained.

Qing Jiu expertly peeled the chestnuts, her fingers deftly separating the nut from the shell, “Did he apologize to you?”

“How did you know?” Yu’er asked.

Qing Jiu smiled, her gaze drifting to the jade pendant, “What’s this?”

Yu’er handed the pendant to Qing Jiu, “On my way back, I encountered the woman from the bandit fortress, the one who was caught to be married. She gave this to me as a token of gratitude. When I tried to return it, she had already disappeared.”

Qing Jiu’s eyes narrowed slightly, a look Yu’er was familiar with, one that seemed both amused and threatening.

“Did she say anything else to you?”

“Nothing else,” Yu’er replied.

Qing Jiu examined the jade pendant closely. It was crescent-shaped, with intricate and delicate carvings, its pure white surface indicating its exceptional quality.

“This is a valuable item. Since she said it’s a token of gratitude, you should keep it,” Qing Jiu suggested, reattaching the pendant to Yu’er’s waistband, jokingly adding, “If you ever run out of money, you can pawn it instead of fortune-telling with Yan Li.”

Yu’er couldn’t help but laugh at her words.

After enjoying the night market, Yu’er felt much lighter, the oppressiveness that had woken her dispelled completely.

As they were about to turn into an alley on their way back to the courtyard, Yu’er thought about returning the handkerchief to Qing Jiu. Suddenly, Qing Jiu grabbed her hand, pulling her behind a dilapidated wall.

Yu’er looked at her questioningly, but Qing Jiu shook her head, signaling silence, then gestured towards the alley.

Following her gaze, Yu’er saw a figure emerging from the alley.

Could it be Mo Wen?

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Khriss
Khriss
21 days ago

Mysterious Bandit almost-Wife! Who is she!
Thanks for the TL!